It’s all happening in Balham if you’re feeling a little soif. Gazette, the French bistro, moved to huge new premises in March 2011; The Clarence pub had a complete refurb, opening at the same time; and a new wine-tasting shop opened on Hildreth Street within days.
Previously, Oddbins had been the pinnacle of the wine-tasting experience in Balham, but the Wine Tasting Shop is raising both glasses and stakes with a fresh selection of fine wines to sample every day. The wines are stored below inert gas, while owner Julia Michael is anything but inert – her enthusiasm for the subject bubbles over anyone crossing the threshhold.
Be warned that most of the bottles start around the £10 mark, and that tastings are not free – you have to buy a ‘loyalty card’ first, £5 for ten samples.
In 2014, the Wine Tasting Shop looks set to expand as part of the redevelopment of Hildreth Street. Once the on-licence is granted, wine can be sold to drink on the premises (bottles for a flat £9 mark-up). Tables outside are planned in good weather, until 9pm in the evening, with cheese and charcuterie platters to go with the drinks.